Arrow Electronics Helps Injured Racecar Driver Robert Wickens Get Back Behind the Wheel

Jul 22, 2019 10:45 AM ET
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Nearly a year after a suffering a severe spinal cord injury, IndyCar driver Robert Wickens returned to the track – leading the high-speed parade lap at the 2019 Honda Indy Toronto in a hand-controlled car modified by Arrow Electronics.

Arrow modified an Acura NSX donated by Honda Performance Development with a kit that controls the vehicle’s throttle and acceleration with a ring on the steering wheel and software. Wickens operated a mechanical brake with his right hand and shifted using paddles on the steering wheel. Arrow also updated the car’s brakes, tires and racing seatbelts.

“I’ve been dreaming about this for a long time, and words can’t describe how it felt to be back in a car,” said Wickens. “Motorsports’ main purpose is to evolve the automotive industry and, in my particular circumstance, accessibility. “

Wickens suffered a severely bruised spinal cord last August in a crash shortly after the start of the 2018 ABC Supply Pocono 500. He lost sensation and movement from his chest down. With intensive physical therapy he has recovered some leg movement and other functions. His rehabilitation continues.

Despite his injuries, Wickens was named the 2018 Indycar Rookie of the Year with seven top-5 finishes in 14 races. Wickens remains a driver with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team.

Now Arrow is leading an initiative to develop a high-performance driving solution that would enable Wickens to compete again.

"He approached his recovery with the exact same determination that we saw when he was in the race car," said Arrow Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Long. “I'm totally convinced we can put Robert back in a (Indy) car. It will be possible for him to drive, and we won't stop until he gets there." 

Previously, Arrow developed the Semi-Autonomous Motorcar (SAM) Car Project with Arrow SPM co-owner Sam Schmidt.

Schmidt  was paralyzed in a racing crash nearly 20 years ago. He drives the SAM car 
using advanced electronics and head controls at speeds up to 192 mph. Business Insider named the Arrow SAM Car the 2016 Car Innovation of the Year.

Arrow’s corporate social responsibility program supports humanitarian projects that guide innovation forward and demonstrate how technology makes life better. 

About Arrow Electronics

Arrow Electronics (NYSE:ARW) guides innovation forward for over 200,000 leading technology manufacturers and service providers. With 2018 sales of $30 billion, Arrow develops technology solutions that improve business and daily life. Learn more at FiveYearsOut.com.